Emilia, transferred to the West End by popular demand, exhibits all the fearlessness and fury behind girl power. Originally performed at Shakespeare’s Globe, it now visits the Vaudeville Theatre.
A play by Morgan Lloyd Malcom, it tells the tale of a woman lost through history, Emilia Bassano Lanier. One of the first published women in England, she was the presumed ‘dark lady’ in Shakespeare’s sonnets and a herald for feminism. With a creative team and cast composed totally of women, this play doesn’t sidestep or avoid the act of calling people to arms in support of women or immigrants and holds a strong message for the audience.
The acting is very strong, with stand-outs such as Sarah Seggari, Charity Wakefield, and Sophie Stone. However, Clare Perkins (playing Emilia 3) gives the strongest performance, from enticing the audience with her first words, to rousing them to cheers and hollers with her last. Her depth and fierceness are something remarkable.
The set is particularly strong, and an improvement on the original production at the Globe. There is a framework that emulates the appearance of the stage at the Globe; however, this comes with a beautiful element of exposed theatricality. As Emilia faces harder times and is increasingly aware of her restrictions, the set begins to feel like a cage so that the stage appears as both her heaven and her hell.
Emilia at the Vaudville Theatre is a refreshing West End play, centering voices often unheard on such a stage. This production stirs the audience to its feet through comedy, music and passion. It is an incredibly powerful production that will leave you changed and strengthened.
PHOTOS: Shakespeare’s Globe